A 30 by 30 Campaign Update from some of our Champions
This piece was written by Anna Gkalimani, EIT and OSPE Women in Engineering Advocacy Champions Task Force (WE ACT) member. Thank you to the 30 by 30 Champions who contributed to this piece.
Would you be surprised to know that throughout Canada the percentage of the newly licensed engineers who are women is only 18%? This substantial under-representation of women in the field of engineering is problematic as it creates a significant gap in the workforce, isolating and excluding potential talent.
To address this gender gap, Engineers Canada introduced the 30 by 30 initiative. Jeanette Southwood, P.Eng., Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at Engineers Canada explains:
“30 by 30 was created by Engineers Canada in 2015 to bring together the 12 provincial and territorial engineering regulators in a collaborative campaign to increase women’s participation in engineering. The initiative aims to raise the number of newly licensed women engineers to 30% by 2030.
It is the critical mass needed to shift culture and provide a tipping point to make lasting change.”
Since its inception, the 30 by 30 initiative has received national support and now has many champions across Canada. The champions include universities, engineering regulators and other stakeholders.
Susan MacDougall, P.Eng., is a Councillor for Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia and a 30 by 30 champion. She is also the founder and building energy advisor at Focal Engineering Inc. Susan underlines the importance of the campaign:
“While many recognize that women remain underrepresented in the fields of engineering and geoscience, it isn’t always on people’s radar as an “urgent” item to address. The 30 by 30 campaign provides us with a clear goal and timeframe to work towards. It’s also great having support at a national level and getting to collaborate with and learn from our sister organizations.”
Through their various roles and responsibilities, the champions take action to eradicate gender stereotypes and create a more inclusive environment for women in engineering.
Katherina Tarnai-Lokhorst, P.Eng., is the Vice President of Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia and a 30 by 30 champion. She shares some of the organization’s actions:
“Through the development of policies and practice guidelines, we are reviewing and updating our language to reflect the diversity of our population. By changing the language, we present a more inclusive image that is more inviting to women and other underrepresented groups.”
Kathy Baig, P.Eng., the President of Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec and a 30 by 30 champion, also shares practical steps toward achieving the 30 by 30 goal:
“We have created a working group that includes several thought-leaders, such as representatives from the universities, the QCESO (Quebec Confederation for Engineering Student Outreach) and First Robotics. We want to increase our presence in schools across Québec, to be there during the transitional phases when young people are making decisions. We want our message to be echoed by their parents, teachers and school counselors.”
One of the main challenges consistently identified by studies on the recruitment and retention of women in STEM continues to be a lack of female role models. It’s important for young women to build networks and find mentors. OSPE’s mentorship program supports recent engineering graduates in the early stages of their career.
Shelly Deitner, P.Eng., Chair of OSPE’s WE ACT (Women in Engineering Advocacy Champions Take Force) and a 30 by 30 champion, shares her experience:
“I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring many young women in engineering, both through OSPE’s mentorship program and in my workplace, by providing support with career planning, professional development and the licensure process. As a mentor, I hope to demonstrate to other women that there is a place for them in engineering, that they have what it takes to succeed, and that they can successfully obtain their licence.”
To reach 30% by the year 2030, OSPE believes engineering employers have a significant role to play. But how can companies and employers recruit and retain more women?
“Companies can recruit more women simply by offering equal career opportunities, a healthy working environment and work-life balance. Additionally, starting a sponsorship program for newly graduated women, would help employers recruit women more easily. Better representation of women and diversity in all its forms at organizations helps generate new ideas, which is an asset itself.“ – Kathy Baig
“Employers can retain more women by creating diverse cross-organizational teams to review and update their employee interaction practices, signage and workplace messaging. Inviting all employees to participate in workplace enhancements begins that inclusive culture.” – Katherina Tarnai-Lokhorst
30 by 30 is about making the engineering profession stronger, and as Tarnai-Lokhorst explains:
“Encouraging more women to enter and stay in the profession is vital to the strength and health of engineering. Many of society’s challenges are simply complex puzzles. Since women and men often create knowledge differently, it is together that can we build the capacity to truly make this world a better place, finding innovative solutions to society’s complex puzzles.”
30 by 30 symbolizes equity, unity, solidarity and progress. Engineers, employers, educators and parents can achieve this goal together.
“Given barriers to entry and retention, implicit bias, workplace cultures that are not inclusive and other challenges, there is significant work to be done. Collaboration is key. Engineers Canada can’t make change alone. Women can’t make change alone. None of us can journey alone to 30 by 30.” – Jeanette Southwood
- 30 by 30 Guide – Guide for actions you can take to contribute to 30 by 30
- Calling all STEM Employers: Why Workplace Cultures Must Shift to Change the
- Gender Landscape – OSPE’s Breaking Barriers team report
- OSPE Mentorship Program – For recent engineering graduates and early career professionals